Vincent Williams is a lifelong New York Giants fan, so imagine his surprise when Dallas Cowboys rookie Travis Frederick offered him turkey, dressing and an autograph.
“I’ve seen him on TV,” the 69-year-old said with a mischievous smile.
Williams isn’t going to switch allegiances for Sunday’s Cowboys game against the Giants, but he acknowledges that’s he a bit star-struck.
“I am getting ready to call my brother and let him know that I have an autograph of a Dallas Cowboys center,” he said.
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Williams was among some 200 Salvation Army clients who were served an early Thanksgiving Day meal in Fort Worth on Tuesday. The Dallas Cowboys, Albertsons and UnitedHealthcare joined forces to help bring joy to people and families struggling with poverty.
About 500 people were treated to turkey and trimmings at events in Fort Worth and Dallas. The Fort Worth meal was served at The Salvation Army Mabee Social Service Center on East Lancaster Avenue.
Salvation Army Maj. Ward Matthews said the Cowboys have helped treat the group’s clients to a memorable holiday meal for more than a dozen years.
“The folks we work with have a pretty tough life, yet they get to have a meal with Dallas Cowboys players and cheerleaders,” Matthews said. “How many people can say that? There are people in this community who would pay for that opportunity.”
Matthews said Albertsons provided the meal and the Thanksgiving table centerpieces. The goal is to create a sense of home and family for clients.
“Many, for a variety of reasons, have lost a sense of family,” Matthews said.
Frederick said the early Thanksgiving feast is a chance to give back.
“I love working with the Salvation Army,” Frederick said. “They do so much good.”
Casey Short, 26, and her 5-month-old baby, Abraham Horton, are staying at the shelter as they work to gain stronger economic footing.
“This is definitely not where I thought God was going to have me,” Short said as she sat down at a community table Tuesday. “I pretty much lost everything last year.”
Short and her son were among the first served.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Short said as Cowboys running back Joseph Randle, defensive back B.W. Webb and tight end Gavin Escobar passed by with plates of food.
The Salvation Army clients appeared tickled as some players worked in a nearby kitchen and others passed out plates. Some clients said they won’t forget this Thanksgiving.
A few clients poked good-natured fun at the Cowboys. The players just chuckled.
Karim Bukenya, 25, said he’s always ready for football and food.
“I love the Cowboys,” Bukenya said. “I love everything that goes in the stomach.”
Bukenya and other Salvation Army clients asked for autographs and pictures.
Wide receiver Terrance Williams drew many smiles as he signed place mat after place mat.
“I am having a great time,” Williams said. “I’m just having fun.”